IWA Bulletin

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Bounce Back Loan Scheme Will Help Waterways Businesses but Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have been lobbying Government on behalf of waterways businesses across the UK. Due to the seasonal nature of waterways businesses, we were aware that they were going to be hit particularly hard by the timing of the lockdown and we were quick to raise concerns, in a meeting with Defra, around the issues faced by the waterway sector.

Responses to a survey of 1500 businesses (carried out by IWA in partnership with Waterways World) painted a very bleak picture, with the majority of businesses reporting that they are at significant risk of collapse and some already planning to close their doors.  This data, alongside findings from a survey carried out by British Marine, led to a joint letter, signed by IWA, British Marine, the Broads Authority and CRT, being sent to Defra asking for much needed financial assistance.

Many waterway businesses fail to meet the criteria for the Government grant and loan schemes, but finally on 27 April, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak announced a new Bounce Back Loan scheme which aims to help small businesses. It is hoped that this 12-month, interest free loan will go some way towards assisting the 2,000 or so waterways businesses that would otherwise be unlikely to survive the current lockdown but we feel that these measures still don’t go far enough. We are asking for additional financial support, similar to that recently announced for the fishing industry, which will allow navigation authorities to underwrite licence and mooring fees for waterways businesses this year.

Read the full story about our call for more support for waterways businesses.

Limiting the use of canal towpaths

We are supporting Canal & River Trust's call for people to limit their use of canal towpaths. 

These are challenging times for all, and whilst we would like waterside paths to remain open, the safety of our waterway users comes first. 

There are many people who live on or near the waterways, and particularly where boats are moored it can be difficult to keep to the Government's safe distance guidelines. Canal & River Trust has specifically requested waterside path users avoid such stretches and for us all to refrain from fishing until further notice.  

Each navigation authority is issuing guidance to boaters regarding non-essential travel. If you are a boater and you are unsure about what you should do, please check with the relevant navigation authority. 

The advice from the government is that you can continue to use the towpaths for exercise, only if they are local to you, as long as you are not showing any symptoms and are staying at least two metres from others.

We will be updating the guidance on our website as things change.

Waterway webinars - more dates added

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Following the success of our waterway webinars we have added more speakers to our rolling weekly programme. It's easy to join using a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. You can also dial in.

Places are limited so register now to avoid disappointment.

Protecting our Waterways Heritage

Presented by Amy Tillson, IWA Campaigns Officer
Tuesday 5th May – 12.30pm
Register now for 'Protecting our Waterways Heritage'

Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor - water transfer

Presented by Chris Howes, IWA trustee and Eastern Region Chairman
Tuesday 12th May – 7:30pm
Register now for Boston to Peterborough Wetland Corridor - water transfer

Canal archaeology

Presented by Ralph Mills
Tuesday 19th May - 12.30pm
Register now for Canal archaeology

Invasive species & biosecurity

Presented by Alex Melson, IWA volunteer coordinator
Thursday 21st May – 12:30pm
Register now for Invasive species & biosecurity

Sustainable propulsion for the inland waterways

Presented by Bowman Bradley, IWA Navigation Committee
Tuesday 26th May - 7.30pm
Register now for sustainable propulsion for the inland waterways

Scottish Waterways – now and the future

Presented by Jonathan Mosse
Tuesday 2nd June – 7:30pm
Register now for Scottish Waterways – now and the future

In addition, a number of our branches are moving their public meetings and socials online. Check the IWA calendar for details.

Unlimited access to webinars on our YouTube channel


We're uploading many of our online presentations to YouTube for you to watch at a time which is best for you. Subscribe to our channel to get notifications when webinars are ready to view.

View webinars and subscribe to our YouTube channel

IWA Festival of Water, Worcester will take place in 2021

The extension of the Covid 19 lockdown has led us to take the decision to cancel our 2020 Festival of Water. The Festival had been due to take place on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal in Worcester over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Paul Rodgers, IWA National Chairman said “I know that this will disappoint a great many people, many of whom travel from around the country to join us, but with the continuing uncertainty surrounding the spread of the virus, we felt cancelling the event was the right decision to take. The safety of our volunteers and staff, and of everyone who contributes to the event, is obviously paramount. The festival team will be contacting our traders, caterers and exhibitors.”
Jane Elwell, chair of the Events Committee, said “Team members have already invested a great deal of time and effort in organising the event and I thank them and the many supporters of our wonderful Festival. We look forward to working with you all again next year.”

However the good news is that we plan to be in Worcester's Perdiswell Park over the August Bank Holiday weekend 2021.  We look forward to welcoming boaters and visitors to celebrate with us and Worcester City Council next year.

Two Trailboat Festivals in May 2021

This year's Trailboat Festival has been postponed and instead we plan to host two trailboat events next year.

IWA’s 2020 Trailboat Festival on the Wey & Arun has been postponed until the early May Bank Holiday 2021.

Chesterfield Canal Trust,will be hosting our IWA Trailboat North over the Spring bank holiday weekend at the end of May 2021. 

New Biodiversity Net Gain guidance launched

A shift from ‘infrastructure versus nature’, to an approach where infrastructure is designed, built and maintained in ways that benefit our environment, has led to the publication of a new guidance note by IWA. Written by IWA’s Restoration Hub team,  Introducing Biodiversity Net Gain to Waterway Restorations is designed to support waterway restoration projects with future development opportunities.  

Managing impacts on biodiversity has long been part of infrastructure development. However, declarations on the joint climate and biodiversity crisis by private and public sector organisations escalated during 2019, placing biodiversity loss, and the need to address it, at the centre of political and public discussions. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) looks to be the answer.

The concept is simple as the approach leaves biodiversity in a measurably better state than before. BNG will fundamentally change the way we approach Waterway Restoration in the future. Where previously biodiversity and the environment would have been an afterthought or a nice ‘added extra’, BNG will require developers and construction organisations to put biodiversity at the heart of all activities from project inception to the aftercare.

Read the full story on Biodiversity Net Gain.

You can also sign up to our Biodiversity Net Gain webinar taking place on the 11th June at 12.30pm.

A move to skillset-based trustee selection

IWA Trustees have recently reviewed the Charity Commission guidelines which require charities to consider “the skills and experience the current trustees have, and whether there are any gaps”. The trustees concluded that a more diverse board with a wider range of identified skills, experience and perspectives is needed to ensure the most effective delivery of the charity’s objectives.

To achieve this, from this year, rather than being elected, new trustees will be selected based on the skillsets that will be needed over the next three years to complement the skills of existing trustees on the board.

Six trustee positions are available to be filled this year as two exisiting postholders, Ray Carter and Paul Strudwick, are stepping down having served the charity for a maximum term of twelve years. Four trustees, Chris Howes, Mike Palmer, Paul Rodgers and Verna Smith, have come to the end of their three-year terms. The latter four trustees are eligible to stand again for a further period.

The proposed process is that a selection panel of remaining trustees, including Ray Carter, Paul Strudwick and three non-trustee IWA members with board level business/ governance experience chaired by an IWA Deputy Chairman, will review applications and appoint up to six trustees based on the skills applicants have evidenced. Applications will need to be returned by 5pm on Friday 12th June. The selection panel will meet in late June with applicants being notified of appointments by 3rd July. New appointees will be invited to attend the trustees’ meeting on 18th July with their formal, legal role as trustees commencing after the AGM.

Next steps: information on the application process, which will detail the skillsets needed and final details of the process to be followed, will be available online from 1st May. It can also be obtained from Tracy Higgin – email tracy.higgin@waterways.org.uk or write to Trustee Applications, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA.

We welcome applications from people from all walks of life and will be further promoting this process through wider advertising.

#DeclutterAndDonate on Tuesday 5 May

While charity shops remain closed, this is an innovative new way to donate goods and raise funds for IWA. It is being promoted as a way you can support your favourite cause on “Giving Tuesday” 5th May.

By decluttering at home, you can donate your unwanted Books, CDs, DVDs and Games through trade-in site Ziffit, and 100% of the trade-in value will be donated to support our cause. Follow this link to the Ziffit website, list the goods you wish to donate and they will arrange to collect them safely from your home.


Buy online and raise money for IWA at no cost to you. It is so easy to do your shopping with thousands of partner sites via easyfundraising.  Every time you do, a percentage will be donated to IWA and it will cost you absolutely nothing extra.

There are over 3,100 shops and sites for you to browse and buy through on the easyfundraising site.  Usually the thing that stops people raising money in this way for their favourite charity is that they simply forget.  Since we launched IWA onto easyfundraising we have raised over £1500 so it is a brilliant way to support IWA.  Find out more about easyfundraising.

How to remind yourself to raise money for IWA via easyfundraising:

By using the app, the reminder toolbar or shopping through the easyfundraising site, you can help IWA raise hundreds and hopefully thousands of pounds.


Many of the offers below can be claimed simply by using your IWA membership card.  For others, log in or phone the membership team on 01494 783453 for details.

Please note: All discounts and offers are entirely at the organisers' discretion.

Enjoy the Waterways Through Hire Boats and Leisure

ABC Boat Hire - 15% discount on holidays (Direct Bookings Only)
CanalCruising.co.uk - 10% discount on holidays
Canal Boat Magazine - 5 issues for £5.00
City Centre Cruises - 10% discount for Sunday lunch cruises in Manchester
Frangipani SUP Ltd - 10% discount on adult beginner 'Stand Up & Paddle' lessons
Jenny Wren- 10% discount off cruises
Wyvern Shipping Co. Ltd- 10% discount on published prices

Eating Out

To take advantage of eating out offers you just need to produce a valid IWA membership card.

The Bounty Pub - 10% discount on food
Kings Lock Tearooms
- 10% discount on food
The Clifford Arms Pub - 10% discount on food
The Three Locks Pub - 10% discount on food

Better Value on Boats and Equipment

Boatshed Grand Union - 10% discount on brokerage
Calcutt Boats - 5% online discount
Channelglaze Ltd. - 10% discount on double glazing
Cotswold Outdoor - 10% discount
IceGripper - 20% discount on ICETrekkers Diamond Grip
Kings Lock Chandlery - 5% discount (exclusions apply)
Midland Chandlers - 5% discount
RoadPro - 5% discount
Willowbridge Marina - 10% discount on chandlery purchases and services in the yard


Forge Studio - 10% discount
Harbour Clean - 10% discount
Lee Sanitation - 10% on orders over £100
Paper Wizard - 15% discount
River Canal Rescue - up to 15% discount
Wavetrain Marine - 5% discount on selected 1 day RYA SRC VHF Licence Course

For IWA members who receive a printed copy of this bulletin in the post, please contact the membership team on 01494 783453 for the details of the offers.

Members can also support IWA with a Narrow Boat magazine subscription

Boat Insurance

We have been looking at ways to provide more benefits to the waterways and everyone who uses them, and have extended our insurance offer to help you find the best available cover for your boat, your home and your car.  Every policy purchased or renewed helps IWA, allowing us to further our charitable work for the waterways.

See more information about the IWA insurance schemes for boaters